Our Harless Line

     Our Harless story began in the upper section of Rheinland Pfalz (Rheinland Palatinate) of Germany, in the Landau City District of Muhlfofen, at the village of (unknown) Offenbach, Landau, Rheinland Germersheim.


     The Palentine area of Germany had been devastated by religious wars between Lutherans and Catholics and overrun by invading armies in wars considered to be some of the most fierce and cruel fighting Western Civilization had ever seen.  The area was not so much involved in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) as were other areas, but it became the battleground for the French, Swedish, Spanish and the German Imperialists wars. Because of this there was widespread destruction of both people and property in this area between 1622-1707. During those years there were shiploads of German emigrants coming from Germany to America to avoid religious persecution.
     In 1683, a group of German emigrants from the Palatinate founded the first permanent German settlement in North America at Germantown, Pennsylvania.  This started a mass emigration into Pennsylvania.  There were three major reasons for the emigration out of Germany in the late 1600's and early 1700's.  The first was that religious persecutions were carried out by both the churches and the government.  After the Treaty of Westfalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years War, the Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed Lutheran or Calvinist churches were the only churches officially recognized by the existing kingdoms.  All others were still persecuted.
     The second reason was economic and environmental conditions.  In Germany there were always economic problems due to the constant wars and overcrowded conditions that existed. But, the worst by far was seen during the Thirty Years War. During this time, towns were continually being ravaged and plundered by German, as well as foreign armies.  In 1707, during the War of Spanish Succession, the Pfalz was destroyed for the fourth time.
     The third reason for the mass emigration was the political conditions that existed in Germany during that period. Often the people were heavily taxed and oppressed in order to support the nobility and to provide a military force. When enticing stories of the new world were spread around, of being able to worship freely, being free from the threats of war and oppression, and being able to own as much land as they wanted, the people began leaving by the thousands.
     In 1738, our ancestor, Johann Phillip Harless, age 22, and his brother-in-law, Johann Phillip Preisch/Price, age ?? , took their families to Rottersdam, the Netherland, where they boarded the ship"Winter Galley", with Edward Paynter as commander.  They set sail, first for Deal England, and then for the New World.  They would no doubt miss their homeland, but were excited and eager to begin a new and better way of life in America.
     On September 5, 1738, the ship, the "Winter Galley" was the first of 5 Ships, carrying Palatines from Germany, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All ships had sailed from Rottersdam, via Deal England, to Philadelphia and carried the first of our Harless ancestors to set foot on American soil.
     On the same day, Philip(Johan) Harless and Johan Michel Preisch, along with the other male members of the ship, were at the court house of Philadelphia, did take and subscribe the oaths to the government, which at that time was British.  They then settled down in Orange County, Virginia, on the Shenandoah River.  They were there for some eight or ten years, and then they moved near Lexington (on Cow Pasture River about 4 miles from Natural Bridge)
Then we find them in the German New River Settlement, southwest of the present city of Roanoke.  
There Philip Harless acquired considerable land, raising a family of 5 son's and 2 daughters, and was among those who in 1750 built the first Luthern Church west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
     Ferdinand Horless, our earliest recorded Harless ancestor, was born in 1690, in the Offenbach, in the district of Muhlhofen, County of Landau, in the Western Palantinate of Germany, near the International border with France.  He died April 6 1740 in Muehlhofen, Palatinate, Germany.  He married Anna Catherine Volger, daughter of , on .

     (It was a common practice in those days to baptize a child within one week of it's birth. Also, it is worthwhile to note that the names Hans and Johann are the German equivalent of the English name of John. And there was a German custom of the middle name being used as the calling name.)


Harless Family Association Bulletin Volume 40 No 1 Date Jan-Jun 2002 Carol Harless Editor

FROM THE EDITOR:  It has come to my attention that we are having a problem with the parentage of Johan Philip. There are a number of people out there on the Internet who are attaching the name of Ferdinand as the father of our Philip. No. No. No. Please-----if you are one who has done that, would you please erase that combination. Way back in 1977-78 Gilberta Evans and I became involved with a German publication bringing us results of two potential people who could be the parents for our immigrant. However there may be even more. What happened as a result of the findings resulted in spending money to have one of the top researchers for German research take a look at what we had. Mrs. Trudy Schenk came up with the same conclusions. She even found for us what we believe to be another sister of Johan Philip. We have insufficient evidence to say that Ferdinand is the father of Johan Philip. I know this may be upsetting to some, but to make a wrong choice is not good either. If you have any friends who have written Ferdinand as the father, Please tell them also that this is wrong. Thanks for your help!


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